Recommended artist: Raleigh Ritchie
Bristol born Raleigh Ritchie’s Black and Blue EP brought the versatile young actor/ singer to the fore of the UK urban music scene in 2013. With an intense musical style, that combines alternative R&B, deeply personal lyrics and assertive yet sensitive rhymes. Single ‘Stronger Than Ever’ tells the story of his in initial struggle for independence when he first moved to London and how he became ultimately triumphant in his battle with his new intimidating home. While he is currently busy focusing on recording his debut studio album, he still manages to find the time to shoot scenes for Game Of Thrones, in which he plays the character of Grey Worm. With a steely drive and ambition and a creative maturity well beyond his tender age of 23, Ritchie (pictured) is bound to make waves over the coming months.
New Album: Glitches And Breaks
The new record from Detroit native Black Milk does just what it says on the tin by infusing fluid rhymes with electronic breaks and abstracts samples. The twinkling keys and looping noises of ‘Dirt Bells’ has a childlike sinister tone juxtaposed with lyrics about the loneliness of touring. Elsewhere, ‘Cold Day’ stands out for its soulful hook and funk inspired baseline. Milk, who sites producer J Dilla as major influence on his music, also collaborates with Fat Ray and Guilty Simpson on the album. The result of their duet is ‘G’. Its ghostly sadness and dark rhyme are pessimistic but emotive. Closing track ‘Break’ brings an unexpected and head nodding rock out with screeching guitars and aggressive production. The album’s only negative is its short running time. At just 25 minutes, it is concise but still packs a punch as a cohesive project.
On The Rise: Loaded Lux
After appearing on numerous mixtapes and on a recent Smack DVD battle, Harlem born MC John Lucks has acquired enough buzz to release Locked & Loaded – a collection of tracks and freestyles showcasing his talent on the mic. As the newcomer transitions from neighbourhood battles to full-time studio sessions, Lux hopes to follow the footsteps of former battlers-turned-mainstream artists such as Jay-Z, DMX, and Lloyd Banks. He seems to be on the right track with singles like ‘You’ll Never Win’ and ‘Killas’ combining gritty lyrics with slick production. His latest mixtape You Gon’ Get This Work also features a breezy acoustic collaboration with Wyclef as well as the bass heavy ‘Rite’ with Method Man and Redman.
Dust it off – Classic album Of The Month : Illmatic by Nas
With the recent reissue of to commemorate its 20 year anniversary, it seemed only right to honour Illmatic in this month’s classic album section. Originally released in April 1994, the album acted as a perfect platform for the then up-coming MC’s articulate flow and narratives about living life in his beloved Queensbridge. Arguably one of the best hip hop debut’s ever made; Nas had a way of making his harsh realities not only palatable but relatable. The aim of his lyrics was to make us understand what the streets feel like, taste like and smell like. This was achieved by using tracks produced by DJ Premiere, Large Professor, and Pete Rock. From the jazzy sound of ‘The World is Yours’ to the hard-core sound of ‘Halftime’, the album represents the entire spectrum of the genre. Illmatic is uncompromising with a sound that is unique to Nas making it a timeless classic.
Gig of the month: Gramatik – Button Factory, May 10th
The Slovenian DJ/producer who hails always gravitated towards hip-hop, taking influences from old jazz and soul records. He began making his own beats as a young teenager and later began working with Colorado based electronic artist Pretty Lights. The always prolific Gramatik has numerous releases including Beatz and Pieces volume 1 and Street Bangerz volume 2, 3 and 4. The collection showcases a varied and eclectic range of inspirations including instrumental hip hop, jazz, reggae and chopped up beats. In 2012 he moved to New York, finally fulfilling his ambition to live in the birth place of hip hop. He is currently touring throughout Europe. Not too shabby for a guy who describes his music making as “an elaborate joke” according to his Facebook page. These are serious beats worth checking out. No Joke.